Family Among 5 Killed In Small Plane Crash On I-287 In Harding, N.J.

HARDING, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Five people and a dog died Tuesday morning when the small plane they were aboard crashed near Morristown Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said.  Some witnesses reported seeing the plane spiraling out of control as it crashed to the ground and new questions about icing possibly causing the accident have arisen.

The single-engine, high-performance six-seater — a Socata TBM-700 — was utterly destroyed around 10 a.m. near exits 33 and 35.  The plane crashed 14 minutes into the doomed flight from Teterboro Airport en route to DeKalb Peachtree Airport near Atlanta.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg With More From NTSB Officials

Pilot Jeffrey Buckalew, his wife, Corinne, and their two children, Jackson and Meriwether, were killed along with Buckalew’s business partner Rakesh Chawla, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.  Both Buckalew and Chawla were managing directors of the New York investment firm  Greenhilland Co.

Photos: I-287 Plane Crash

Chawla was a married man on the fast track to success and wealth. His family is now gathering to help his wife prepare a funeral, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.

“The firm is in deep mourning over the tragic and untimely death of two of its esteemed colleagues and members of Jeff’s family. They will be sorely missed and our sympathies go out to their families and friends,” Greenhill and Co. said in a statement.

family Family Among 5 Killed In Small Plane Crash On I 287 In Harding, N.J.

Jeffrey Buckalew, Meriwether & Corinne Buckalew. (credit: & Facebook)

The plane is registered to Cool Stream LLC, which is headquartered on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. Buckalew, 45, is the owner of that company. Buckalew is a pilot and was known to fly a Socata TBM-700.

Bob Gretz, Senior Investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said Tuesday was the first day of what will likely be up to a year-long investigation, so all of the information is preliminary.

Gretz said that during the flight there was a discussion between the pilot and controllers about locations of icing conditions.

Air-Traffic Control Tape 1 (credit:

“Icing was the subject of the conversation, but I don’t know further details as to if he was asking where it was or if he was in some,” he said.

Air-Traffic Control Tape 2 (credit:

NTSB investigators are admittedly puzzled by the transmissions, saying the plane broke apart before the icing question was resolved and that there was no hint of an emergency.

Aviation expert JP Tristani said icing could most certainly down a plane, but he said the larger issue is how the pilot reacted at the very start of that deadly spin.

“Instead of just maybe a flat spin, wrong type of controls could bring that plane into a nosedown, which they said, and it starts spinning, or it could even flip over and do an inverted spin, which — goodbye,” he told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

Gretz also said there was no black box aboard the plane, but there was a GPS system.

The plane initially impacted on the southbound side of Route 287, went through a median area and parts of the debris ended up on the northbound side, Gretz said. Witnesses saw the plane begin to break up and lose a section before it plunged to the ground in an uncontrolled spin. Luckily, no one on the ground was injured, but a pickup truck just missed the plane, Gretz said.

“Definitely at least a piece of the plane that had separated that was flipping … it came down after the initial impact. I was in shock,” one witness told reporters, including CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

rakesh chawla Family Among 5 Killed In Small Plane Crash On I 287 In Harding, N.J.

Rakesh Chawla was also killed in Tuesday's crash. (credit:

Debris was strewn across many lanes along both sides of 287, bringing traffic to a near standstill. Tuesday afternoon,  New Jersey State Police said that three southbound lanes and two northbound lanes of the interstate were open once again.

An eyewitness to the crash told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman that at first the plane appeared to be doing tricks in the air when a wing came off.

Witnesses and state police told 1010 WINS’ Sandberg the plane appeared to break up in mid-air. A wing landed in a tree and the propeller was found in the woods. Debris was found a half-mile from the site of the crash.

WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman With Witnesses To The Crash

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg speaks with witnesses

The doorman at Buckalew’s building told CBS 2 he and his family had left for vacation down South that morning in a trip that was to combine business and fun.  Neighbors on the Upper East Side also expressed sorrow and condolences about the tragedy.

“This is terrible, terrible news,” Daniel Nadler said. “It’s a tragedy.”

“Our heartfelt condolences to the whole family that was left behind,” Serga Nadler said.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Leila

    Keep them in your prayers.

  • sarah

    jackson and meriwether were my friends, gosh she was only six

  • Lindalee

    I pray for the family and the gentleman who perished in this crash. I pray they were of the Christian faith

  • thatsomething


  • Hillary Smith

    This family is my best friends friends….such a tragic loss

  • Fred

    99 Percenter needs a good old fashioned ASS WHUPPING. Let me know where to find you and you can tell me how sorry you are about your heinous post, to my face.

  • Shocked

    Pretty intelligent comment. The ethnicity/religion shouldn’t even be a factor when 5 people lose their lives, even worse around the holidays. Friends and family will feel it as well.

  • bday55

    Sounds like the plane’s mech records are gonna be checked. Maybe Joe forgot to put all the bolts back on the wing Friday night.

  • Anthony


  • friend

    Its very sad, people just died and you are talking about some stupid football game.

  • Tom

    I highly doubt that this plane was doing “tricks” before it crashed, this is certainly not the type of plane one would be doing tricks in. It probably had structural failure which caused it to start to tumble or something. As a pilot and a aircraft mechanic there are just some things you do not do in certain aircraft especially with 5 people on board.

    • Concerned Aviator Citizen

      Fuel Starvation as of now, seems to be the culprit, from a vapor lock or possibly water in the jet fuel, the water can condense inside the fuel tank, when the water part hits the igniter, you flame out, that is why I prefer 2 engines over one

      • PatinNJ

        or someone put avgas in it

      • PatinNJ

        or he flew into some supercooled droplets and iced his wings.

    • Joe

      Listen Tom, Learn how to read, the person said “it looked like the plane was doing tricks” they didnt say it was doing tricks.

  • BobbyONJ

    Cindy, was your friend traveling Southbound?

    • Cindy

      She didn’t say which direction she was traveling. But the photo she posted appears to be only a couple lanes from the crash, very close-up and right in front of it. Her exact quote on fb was: “Plane just crashed in front of me on 287.” In response to several people asking how she is, she said, “Shaking like a leaf.” She hasn’t posted anything else since even though numerous are asking questions and posting comments.

      • disgusted

        So this friend was “shaking like a leaf” but not so badly that she wasn’t going to run online to idiot facebook and publish ghoulish photos of this horrific accident. Yes, surely the victims families are going to be thrilled to see the pictures on infantile facebook.

        • Cindy

          There was nothing ghoulish about the photos. And really, they show a lot less than the overhead photos being shown on TV with helicopters. Why judge before you’ve even seen it? As far as going online, I would imagine she was stopped and stuck in traffic — isn’t it true that if you witness a crash, you’re supposed to stop? And, from all accounts on TV the traffic was indeed jammed up immediately. So you’re sitting there shaking like a leaf and thinking OMG, what just happened? And maybe you just pick up your phone, take a photo, then make a quick comment about it on Facebook, while you’re waiting.

  • Concerned Aviator Citizen

    5 people were on board, I still don’t know from where the aircraft took ooff from but as of now, no base at Morristown claims it.

    • Pork Fried Rice

      It left from Teterboro, NJ

    • PatinNJ

      Maybe he was trying to make it into MMU

  • Cindy

    This crash happened right in front of my friend as she traveled down the highway. She posted a photo of the crash a little while ago on Facebook. Doesn’t look like there would be any survivors.l

    • kevin

      whats her fb so i can cee the picture please

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